Last updated: 14.02.13

SMEs 'realising importance of vocational training'

Small employers are beginning to recognise the benefits of offering vocational training opportunities and apprenticeships within their workplace.

HR Zone reports that according to a survey of 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by a group of higher education organisations, college leavers are better prepared for the world of work than school pupils of the same age and they are also more motivated.

It found 86 per cent of firms believe having staff with vocational qualifications improved business performance, which means they are taking on more apprenticeships and rolling out training, while over three-quarters (77 per cent) agreed these methods boost staff retention.

Nancy Lengthorn, head of recruitment and talent at UK media agency MediaCom, claimed by hiring a diverse range of young people, companies are able to gain insight and understanding of the audiences they are trying to attract.

She was quoted as saying: "The industry needs bright, inquisitive young apprentices - people who understand the needs of the audiences our clients are trying to reach. Such talent, often overlooked, will give us the edge in our very competitive industry."

At present, MediaCom has ten younger employees working in the organisation's marketing and communications department and it decided to launch an apprenticeship drive in order to encourage people from a range of backgrounds to enter the industry.

It is noted by the news provider that data from the UK Commission of Employment and Skills reveals almost one-quarter (24 per cent) of growing businesses in the UK offer apprenticeships, compared with 13 per cent of all companies across the nation.

Any firms that are refraining from rolling out training to young people because of the cost implications may want to consider e-learning as an alternative.

By turning to an external provider of digital education, businesses will find they are spending less on improving the skills of employees at the same time as creating more space in their busy daily routine. Apprentices may also be able to benefit from the technology by uploading their work online and monitoring their own progress.